RTC:Rural’s newest research brief examines how rural people with disabilities use different types of transportation. These include being a driver, asking others for rides, special transportation services, reduced-fare taxis, and public transportation.
People with disabilities, especially in rural areas, still report transportation as a significant barrier to full inclusion and participation in community life, nearly 30 years after the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law. Understanding how people with disabilities get around is an important first step for improving transportation options.
Using data from the 2017 National Household Travel Survey, this research brief explores travel behaviors and characteristics of rural and urban people with disabilities.
While many Americans will suffer in the coming recession, people with disabilities in rural areas are especially vulnerable because they are less likely to have an emergency savings fund, have access to paid leave, or be able to work from home.
On February 11, 2020, RTC:Rural Director Catherine Ipsen and Research Associate Lillie Greiman presented as part of a panel at the Annual Disability Statistics Compendium. Their presentation was titled “Uncovering the intersection of rural and disability.”
Christiane von Reichert, professor of Geography at the University of Montana and a RTC:Rural research partner, was also part of the panel. Her presentation was titled “Using the ACS PUMS to examine disability and migration.”
Project Director Lillie Greiman and RTC:Rural Director Dr. Catherine Ipsen recently co-authored an article in The Conversation about proposed changes to disability benefits and how those could make it harder for people with disabilities, especially those in rural communities, to maintain federal benefits.
In order to create policies and programs that serve the needs of
people with disabilities in rural communities, it is important to know things
about them, such as demographic information and location. The federal
government maintains several large data sets that collect this information.
However, it can be difficult to access rural disability data from these data
sets (see Data Limitations in the American Community
Survey: The Impact on Rural Disability Research).
To address this, RTC:Rural is conducting rural analyses of
existing large data sets to contribute to a national disability statistics
“Attending CANAR meetings allows us to meet face to face
with our advisors and reach a broader audience of tribal stakeholders,” said
Ipsen. “Together, we are developing a resource that is appropriate across
tribal vocational rehabilitation programs.”
In the paper, Repke and Ipsen analyze survey data from the
Reform and Disability Survey to explore how a number of factors are related
to social participation and perceived isolation for people with disabilities,
and to see if there are differences for those who live in rural vs urban areas.
These factors include number of disabilities, self-rated health, employment
status, and living arrangements (alone or with others).
Previous studies have compared social isolation to smoking
in terms of risk to public health. Some groups of people have a much higher
risk of social isolation, including people with disabilities and rural
residents. This research builds on previous work by considering how the
potentially compounding effects of disability status and living in a rural area
may affect social participation and perceived isolation.
The passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care
Act (ACA) and adoption of Medicaid expansion was associated with substantial
increases in insurance coverage across the United States (see Changes
in coverage and access, MACPAC 2019). However, RTC:Rural
researchers wanted to know how ACA policy changes and Medicaid expansion impacted
people with disabilities, particularly those who live in rural areas.
To explore this question, RTC:Rural researchers analyzed
microdata from the 2008-2013 American Community Survey
Using these data, they were able to compare how insurance coverage has changed
over time for people with and without disabilities in rural and urban places,
and in expansion and non-expansion states.
Last week, RTC:Rural was in Connecticut for the Consortia of
Administrators for Native American Rehabilitation (CANAR) 2019
mid-year conference held in Mashantucket, CT. RTC:Rural Director Dr. Catherine
Ipsen, Research Associate Dr. Meredith Repke, and Knowledge Translation
Associate Lauren Smith met with advisor partners and presented the progress to
date on the Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Self-Employment Toolkit.
CANAR meetings bring together representatives from tribal VR
programs across the country two times each year. “The meetings provide an
important opportunity to share our work and gather additional stakeholder input
about efforts to translate our self-employment materials for tribal VR
programs,” said Ipsen.
Over the past semester, RTC:Rural Director Dr. Catherine Ipsen worked with University of Montana (UM) undergraduate Nelson Weaver on his senior capstone project about the effects of loneliness on the aging population. Weaver’s poster presentation won a best presentation award at UM’s Conference of Undergraduate Research. He graduated in May 2018 with a major in psychology and a minor in communication studies.
Weaver contacted Ipsen about his interest in psychology and well-being of those experiencing mental and physical impairments and asked about possible capstone research opportunities. “This inquiry came at the perfect time,” said Ipsen. “I was juggling lots of projects, but wanted to make headway on a grant proposal idea focused on aging and health impacts of loneliness. Nelson was the perfect fit.”